Article #36 Ebola in West Africa: Investigating the Largest Outbreak in History

The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa that started in December 2013 and ended in June 2016 was worldwide news for good reason. Ebola has the potential to have devastating consequences on a grand scale because it is so deadly and spreads extremely quickly.

This epidemic was the largest outbreak of Ebola in history with over twenty eight thousand recorded cases and over eleven thousand deaths. What is even more concerning is that scientists estimate that between 17% and 70% of cases were not reported at all, meaning that the epidemic was likely much larger than the statistics indicate.

When disease outbreaks occur of this magnitude it helps experts understand how to prevent and treat future outbreaks more effectively for Ebola and other serious diseases.

This diagram shows the lifecycles of the Ebola Virus, although it is not exactly clear how the virus was initially contracted by humans in 1976 new studies have hypothesized that similar filoviruses (viruses in the same family as Ebola) may have existed for 23 million years. (Image Credit: Center For Disease Control (CDC) via Wikimedia Commons)


This map shows the most recent West African Ebola outbreak frequency in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone between January 2014 and December 2015. (Map Credit: WHO-World Health Organization)


A patient suffering from Ebola is seriously ill and needs ongoing medical attention with the hope his life will be saved (Photo Credit: 70023venus2009 via Flickr)